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Water Scarcity? Here? USGS study indicates the potential is not far-fetched

February 8, 2011Patrick NunnallyUncategorizedComments Off on Water Scarcity? Here? USGS study indicates the potential is not far-fetched

A study reported yesterday by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that the Great Lakes system, the largest system of freshwater in the world, could face local water shortages in coming decades, depending on local water use patterns and the impacts of a changing climate.

The study does not indicate that the whole system is in peril, but rather that local decisions, which are usually driven by social and economic factors, could have severe local impacts.

I thought a particularly interesting note was made at the end of the press release, “The methodology developed for the Great Lakes pilot study will be adapted to future study areas in the Colorado, the Delaware, and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basins, as a precursor to the the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART initiative.”  We know that the Colorado barely reaches the sea, even in the best of times, but the presence of the ACF system (Apalachicola, etc.–don’t make me type that all out again!) is the interesting one.  Recent drought in the southeast, coupled with strong population and urban area growth in Atlanta, has led to severe water shortages in the region.  The water shortage caught everyone in the region by surprise, and local and state government bodies have been playing catch up as they try to find a sustainable approach to regional water problems.

We can do better than that, and we should start considering our future water budgets in Minnesota and the Upper Mississippi basin as potentially coming up short in the decades ahead.  Forewarned is forearmed!

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